I heard once that the ancient Jews would sometimes wait up to two years or more to name their children so that the name would match their personality. I have no idea if this is actually true or not, but for the purpose of this post, let’s use it to draw our attention to the power of the names we give our children.
My name is Thomas William Dick. Leaving my last name alone, I like to think that my first and middle name are very noble indeed. My middle name is derived from my mother’s name “Wilma” and while that felt a bit weird when I first learned I was named for a woman, I have long since grown to love it. Thomas is a nice name too, and I like how it looks when I sign my name “Thom” on my artwork. It also helps people remember. “I’m ‘Thom’ with an ‘h!’”
All of that aside, names really do carry meaning. And do you know what Thomas is always associated with? The doubting disciple. And there are few more accurate descriptors of my life. I was Thomas the Doubter.
I don’t believe I started out as the doubter; I was a creative and curious kid. But somewhere along the line, doubt grew into cutting cynicism and sarcastic skepticism that made me a bit of a chore to be around – I didn’t even like being around me!
But then I a fabulous book by Ravi Zacharias called Recapture The Wonder. In that book, he too talked about “Thomas the Doubter” but he drew attention to the fact that although in Greek “Thomas” simply means “twin,” the original name was “Thaumas” and had been given to one of the twin boys of the Greek gods Pontus and Gaia. Thaumas was the god of the sea, and Plato associated his name not with doubt, but with wonder.
You can see how closely related doubt and wonder are, but whereas doubt questions from a position of disbelief, wonder questions from a position of awe.
I can still feel the impact that simple story made on my identity.
For several years now, my quiet time with God has consisted almost exclusively of memorizing scripture, but lately I added another piece to the first five minutes: simple gratitude. Now I fill one page of my small journal with thanksgiving and gratitude before I get to my memorizing.
I am so grateful that God changed the intent of my name from doubt to wonder.
It is so important that we learn how to teach our children to wonder. Doubts will come – there is no escaping them – but even a doubt can lead us to awestruck wonder when we learn to deal with it properly. One way we deal with our doubt is to address it head on and not ignore or dismiss it. If fifteen years of pastoral work has taught me anything is that people are woefully ill-equipped to deal with their big questions. Students and adults alike.
The paradox is that if we want our children to have healthy hearts filled with the wonder that our King Jesus deserves and provokes, we will need to address their intellectual questions. Questions of the mind stand like Hadrian’s wall, keeping us from the territory of wonder.
Parents, you need to equip yourselves with answers. Please consider signing up for the Parent Workshop I am preparing for June 17. It will present you with answers to questions your kids are asking, questions they aren’t answering but should be, as well as give you some tips on the way we should approach the issue with our children.
If you would like to sign up you can do so here.
If you can’t make it but would like to participate, we have a survey that will help you talk to your kids about their big questions (here), and we will have the workshop taped so that you can watch it afterward.
Wonder is more important that you could possibly imagine! It will keep your children safe in their faith when cloudy doubts gather in chaotic seas.
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